Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Identity Theft eMissions

Protecting ones identity is becoming an impossible eMission

New emissions of our private data are flowing out faster than a speeding bullet.

Take for example recent stories of employees working in banking, mortgage companies, credit card processing centers, and even ISP service providers stealing the information right under the noses of management. Data collected ranges everything from private email addresses, phone numbers, drivers licenses, home and business addresses, and social security numbers.

Once this information is collected a person can do just about anything they want with it. In fact, the scams are so much of a problem that there is no end in sight as to how this will continue to affect us in the future. We are told and rightly so to not open any unsolicited emails such as ebanking scams, where viruses can be riding in the message. Once an email is opened it can infect your computer by actually installing spy programs that can see where you have been and what passwords have been typed on your keyboard. But, we seem to have much bigger legal issues problems going on on the world wide web.

The Internet certainly has helped us with NEW information at our fingertips but the downside is that IT information flows at the speed of light and having the information flowing in the wrong hands can really cause a black hole for consumer privacy and all types of illegal activities.

Federal officials not immune to ID theft

This is such a blight that even federal officials are victims. Data from the FDIC was stolen and then at least 28 Employees fell victim to ID theft with having fraudulent loans opened in the names of the employees.

So, what can be done? What is the "RX prescription" to fight against this type of crime?

Better security for our data at all the Institutions

That is an easy answer but hard to accomplish. There really is nothing holding any institution accountable. In fact whenever data has been stolen they simply say oops. (paraphrased) Part of the problem here is that data is handled sometimes at remote locations around the world. Some businesses in order to cut E-business costs have farmed local, state, and national data handling offshore with foreign eyes viewing private info. Identity theft is not only happening in America but online reports are coming in internationally from Canada, the UK, and other G8 member states.

Unreported e-Criminal cases

Another major issue about this reported e-crime is, I suspect, there are many more unreported incidences of this criminal activity. If a company finds out that information has been stolen why would they want to bring on bad publicity upon themselves? Imagine all the small local institutions that have much to lose if they get a reputation of having their eSecurity systems breached. Would customers want to continue banking at the small local bank or even continue doing business at your neighborhood automotive service center? No, these guys are not going to report this crime.

So, where does that leave us?

Identity theft will continue to be the number one crime and will skyrocket in the next few years until something is done

Start with your business. Implement secure ecommerce Web Sites. Then make sure you implement an ethics policy at the HR hiring level and company wide workers level training in ethical principles involved in ecommerce. Include a system of checks and balances within the company structure to keep a check on this type of activity. Certainly where secure data is being handled, E-mail activity should probably be avoided or monitored for security purposes. Do not allow any USB keys, flash cards, CD duplication, or any other type of transfer device. Prevent unauthorized software programs from being installed on enterprise systems which could be used in online file transfers.

Article by: James A. Warholic, President Professional Web Services, Inc. Internet marketing and Online advertising services.


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Saturday, July 02, 2005

Email Catch All and Spam

The days of using a "Catch ALL" Email, are all but over.

The practice of using one of the company email boxes for a "Catch ALL" means that the company might be opening themselves up to major search engines Spam attacks, Phishing, and Pharming Attacks.

Years ago and still goes on today the practice that if someone sends an email to the wrong addressed location the mail would still get through via the general mail box even if someone accidentally mistyped the address. Or, when an employee was no longer employed with a company it would still get delivered to another account no matter what. There may even have been practical marketing applications for this practice. Sometimes companies would have special promotions and/or current activities and having a new name to represent this for email without having to go into the control panel to create a new account was easy.

Today, this practice opens up a means for spammers to find a mail server that has this type of drop box and literally create any name they want as a return address with your company domain name as the sender. By doing this, spammers can load up an email with Windows viruses and get a double whammy. They can send out unsolicited emails to the world wide web and anyone receiving it if the receiver clicks on the return address as a reply they will think that everything is OK because it looks like a reputable company and the email did not get kicked back.

So, today if you want to create special names for mail, spend the little bit of extra time and set up a dedicated box or forward ONLY the special name without having an open drop box. If you don't you may CATCH ALL more than you want.

Internet Marketing Ethics